Derby schools adopt new “social skills” curriculum

Shelley Minnick begins morning meeting at Swaney Elementary in Derby. (KSN Photo, Sept. 14, 2016)
Shelley Minnick begins morning meeting at Swaney Elementary in Derby. (KSN Photo, Sept. 14, 2016)

DERBY, Kan. (KSNW) – Derby schools are taking a proactive step to try and help students learn social skills at a young age. The program, called Second Step, allows teachers at Derby elementary schools to allot time to work on behavior management and skills to help students succeed outside of the classroom.

At Swaney Elementary school, teachers are given 20 minutes a day to conduct morning meetings or watch videos through the curriculum. “We’re doing our job with the other curriculums, teaching math and reading…social studies, science, but what we felt like the kids needed to be successful was some type of curriculum,” said Swaney principal, Kurt Geilenfeldt. “A program that we could use that could really teach them the skills to be successful socially as well.”

Inside the classroom, this shows itself in a variety of ways. For 2nd grade teacher Shelley Minnick, the skills are things she had tried to teach in her class anyway, but it all came down to a question of when. Now, she doesn’t have to worry about that. “It’s really hard to squeeze it in when you know you’re supposed to be doing all these other things,” Minnick said, “now I’ve got a carved out time in my day where I’m basically given permission, the district, my principal, everybody has said, this is what we want you to focus on.”

Minnick also says that using that 20 minutes a day to teach students how to properly interact with one another also leads to a ripple effect that helps with learning. “If we can get to where we all feel like one big part of the family and we want to work together, I can actually teach more in a day when I’m not having all of the interruptions,” she said.

Derby schools say the program cost about $18,000 in total. It will be used in all the elementary schools in the district for students in pre-K through the 5th grade.


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